Iron Horse Bicycle Classic XC MTB Race (May 28, 2023) Echoes 2001 Durango World Cup

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Five-mile cross country lap is a nod to the 2001 Durango World Cup race, won by Julien Absalon and Mary Grigson

DURANGO, Colorado (March 6, 2023) — This year’s Iron Horse Bicycle Classic Subaru Mountain Bike Race will harken back to the past, using similar trails as the 2001 UCI World Cup course. The 5-mile lap will start and end at Chapman Hill and loop around the prominent mesa just east of downtown for a total of more than 500 feet of climbing per lap. 

Todd Wells. Photo courtesy IHBC

Durango’s cycling and mountain bike legacy–being home to hundreds of miles of singletrack and numerous Olympians–is closely linked with the Iron Horse, which began in 1972. Things really took off for Durango after the inaugural UCI Mountain Bike World Championships in 1990, with the town hosting a World Cup in 2001 and multiple NORBA races.

Photo courtesy IHBC

“This year’s mountain bike course has been ridden and raced many times by the sport’s biggest stars,” said race director Ian Burnett. “The Iron Horse cross country race has been a mainstay in the Durango cycling calendar for years so we wanted to nod back to our history while creating a course that challenges the current crop of pro riders.”

Photo courtesy IHBC

Starting at the base of Chapman Hill, racers will storm toward the half-mile climb up Lion’s Den Trail before topping out on the mesa overlooking town. From here the course flattens out as it skirts around the east side of the Fort Lewis College campus, home to the National Championship-winning FLC Cycling Team. After some flowy yet tricky turns on the south side of the mesa, racers will tackle a few short, punchy climbs as they head back toward Chapman, where they will plunge down the ski hill amid throngs of spectators.

Photo courtesy IHBC

Racers will complete a set number of laps depending on which category they are a part of. There will be three waves of racers taking off throughout the day on Sunday, May 28, and there are plenty of spectating opportunities along the course. Start times by category are posted here, and the course map is available here.

Mountain biking has been a mainstay at the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic, which is known for the Durango-Silverton road race and tour, where riders “race the train” over two mountain passes for a total of 50 miles and 5,700’ of elevation gain. In recent years, the event has also added the Alpine Bank La Strada La Plata gravel event, which will also start and end at Chapman Hill.

Both the long and short gravel courses will start off on city streets before tackling the loose and rocky Horse Gulch Road climb. Riders then head east toward the punchy Glockenspiel climb and the steady yet scenic Texas Creek climb. The short course is 59 miles with 5,400 feet of climbing. The long course adds an additional loop with rolling terrain for a total of 98 miles and 8,000 feet of climbing.

Riders can register for all events and find  more details about the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic at: https://www.ironhorsebicycleclassic.com.

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